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  • Josh Kreinik

D'var Torah: Parashat Vayishlach

One of the most well known events in this week's parsha, Parshat Vayishlach, is that Yaakov wrestled with an angel until daybreak before he would Esau see again since he took his blessing. Yaakov divides everything into two groups so that if Esau does attack one group, the other can run away unharmed. However, when Yaakov does see Esau, all of his worries are proven wrong. Esau runs up to him and kisses him. Yaakov bows down to Esau and calls him his master. Yaakov offers him gifts but Esau refuses. Yaakov asks him again to take the gifts using the words “מנחתי” and “ברכתי”. Why would the Torah use the word “ברכתי” which literally translates to my blessings? Rabbi Sacks z”l says that Yaakov was giving the blessing of the first born back to Esau. The flocks and the herd that Yaakov gave to Esau is the richness of the earth. By calling Esau “my lord” and bowing down to him, Yaakov, the younger, is bowing down to the older, which was part of the blessing for the first born. Rabbi Sacks explains that Yaakov wanted to be like Esau. Yaakov wanted to be the first born, even in the womb, as he wanted the blessing of the first born and goes as far as dressing up as Esau and tells Yitzchak that he was Esau. What does any of this have to do with Yaakov fighting an angel? After the battle,the angel gave Yaakov the name Israel. By giving Yaakov a new name, it is as if the angel is saying that Yaakov will no longer try to be Esau as he had in the past, but will try to be himself.

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